May Reading Thread

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest
I'm starting May with two genre books on the go (and a plethora of non-fiction and some novels which are all stalled...)

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (two operatives on opposite sides in a temporal conflict write letters to each other) which I'm struggling to get to grips with, and a re-read of Emphyrio by Jack Vance (an artisan in a strictly controlled society wants something more for himself and his fellow non-lords) which I'm sailing through, though I'm finding it depressing that I can't remember any of it from my last read, which was only about 12 years ago.

What are you reading this month?
@Rodders (can't do a normal reply as the thread is now closed off)
I think that the audio book would make it easier to to absorb than reading. Peter Kenny is doing the hard work so that i don't have to. :D The phonetic spelling can be quite laborious and difficult. although i do think you are reading it at a more conscious level, if that makes any sense.

Did Banks ever comment on whether those chapters were difficult to write?

Vertigo, i never knew Transitions was one of his SF books. I might check that out, (after i've read your review, of course).

I never saw any comments on difficulty of writing, but I imagine it was tough keeping his phonetic spelling consistent.

Regarding Transition it's a difficult one. I believe it was published as an Iain Banks book in the UK but an Iain M Banks book in the US. I view it as SF but it is probably better categorised as 'weird'. It's certainly not his signature space opera, Culture or otherwise, and there's not a space ship in sight. More of a parallel worlds sort of thing. I probably wouldn't have read it if I hadn't embarked on reading all his work, SF and otherwise, many years ago. But I did enjoy it; it was maybe a little darker than his normal upbeat SF as well.

I don't think I've reviewed it here. I suspect it was before I was posting reviews here. However I have a review here on GoodReads: Mike Franklin's review of Transition
About half-way through the second of Stephen Graham Jones' Indian Lake Trilogy, Don't Fear the Reaper, which progresses pretty much like the best action/adventure/horror movie you've ever read. I'm thinking I'll do something unusual for me: After going directly from the first of the trilogy (My Heart is a Chainsaw) into the second, I'll go directly from the second into the third, The Angel of Indian Lake.
I'm starting May with a second shot at The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan. I know Jordan meanders for chapters at a time and never gets in a hurry, but I do enjoy the characters and the world so I'm hoping that can carry me through. My biggest issue is I'm a completionist at heart and having this in my DNF pile knowing there was a whole series to go was just killing me. I do plan on breaking it up with something different in between.

I recently got my hands on Things That Go Bump in the Night by Louis C. Jones, which was an inspiration and source for the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, so I plan on giving that a go when I need a break from Jordan.

The story is that of Huckleberry Finn but with the difference occasioned by being from the perspective of Jim, Huck's fellow escapee.
The book is a long consideration of humanity and of slavery. The author is well known, having received numerous awards and citations including being short listed for the Booker and the Pulitzer.There is probably not a genre of fiction that he has not tackled. He received an Academy Award for the adapted screenplay of his novel Erasure. The movie title was American Fiction.

Jim is presented as a self-taught and thoughtful reader (Having snuck into Judge Thatcher's extensive library throughout his youth and maturity) His struggle is not only to withstand the constant brutality of slavery, but also to hide his literacy, vocabulary and awareness of the reality of his and other slave's condition. He personally teaches fellow slaves and family both to read and to speak like obedient and superstitious inferiors.
When injured or asleep he has conversations with philosophers that he has read, including Locke and Montesquieu. His experiences on the river are as brutal as can be imagined.
It was a little hard to take.
Given that Everett is well known and what was said about the book in the NYT review where I first heard of it, I expect it to (deservedly) be awarded the Pulitzer for fiction at the ceremony in May.
I'm currently around 150 pages into Between Two Fires, a horror fantasy novel set in France during the Black Death. The prose has definitely been a highlight thus far - it's excellently written, with a tone of desolate beauty clashing with absolute horror. The vibe almost calls to mind Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, though the two book's prose have little in common beyond the aforementioned tone.

Next on the list after this is A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court. Been reading a bunch of very serious novels, and I think something more humorous would be a good change of pace.
Cryptozoic by Brian W Aldiss I just stated it , so fora loving to be a very strange read but os far , it's holding my interest. :)
Still reading Beginning Operations, the first three novelettes in James White's Sector General series. I'm now on vol.2, Star Surgeon, and we've met many of the characters who will recur throughout the series. Among the most appealing is the fragile yet courageous empath Prilikla. White's imagination is continuously creating strange beings and medical problems for us to marvel at. At the moment Conway, the main human character, is dealing with a creature that seems on the verge of death yet has an intense fear of being helped.
This, we learn, is because it is beginning its metamorphosis, during which it has to die in order to be reborn in its adult, imago form.
But Conway - who is coming over as some sort of super-doctor - has worked out what is happening and one is sure that all will be well. The stories are intriguing, though it's clear they were written as episodes for SF magazines and afterwards linked together into novelettes.
Still going The Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick,
Audio .2011.
And THE TERROR, by Dan Simmons, Audio,2007.
OT: Looking forward to YOU LIKE IT DARKER,by Stephen King.
And LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS, Editor Harlan Ellison.
Taking a break from The Great Hunt for a fairly short 1972 YA (or what would be YA now, except it wouldn't be published) Stag Boy by William Rayner. I'd never heard of this book (or the author) until an old uni friend mentioned it the other day as having been a childhood favourite. It wasn't in the catalogue of my local library service, and there seemed to be only a couple of copies for sale in the country. In the end I had to pay 32 times the cover price (of 50p, so no great hardship).

It seems to be one of those stories in which the 1970s excelled, which blended nature and mysticism (think Garner, Cooper) with a somewhat isolated protagonist. Since this one is focused on Exmoor stag hunts, and the MC is going to develop a mystical connection with stag-kind, I have a feeling this might be going somewhere dark. The 1970s was the era of The Wicker Man, after all.
I actually finished this near the end of April but didn't have time to post about it. The Carolinian, by Rafael Sabatini. Set just before and during the early years of the American Revolution. Not one of Sabatini's best, but entertaining enough. Harry Latimer is an impulsive and reckless young gentleman planter, devoted to the Colonial cause. His long-time love, Myrtle Carey, is the daughter of a fantatical Loyalist. Despite this, and over her father's furious objections, they marry. At first they are blissfully happy, have a child, and all goes smoothly between them until her divided loyalties raise questions and one misunderstanding after another raises a barrier between them. (It started me thinking about what might have happened if Romeo and Juliet had survived long enough for her to feel guilty about abandoning her family to marry someone they regarded with bitter enmity.)

However, with the war in progress there is much more to this story than romance. There are battles (off-stage), military strategy, intrigues, spies, betrayals, and a truly vicious revenge plot. Not one of Sabatini's best, and short on swashbuckling, but entertaining enough if somewhat predictable, and although I assume the two main characters are fictional, it did introduce me to several historical figures of the period with whom I was previously unacquainted (books set in this period that I have read before tend to focus on the progress of the conflict farther north.)
Just started Stephen King’s The Green Mile.
Fabulous film (providing you can ignore the religious overtones!). Be interesting to hear your report of both the book and how closely the film stuck to the author's vision.
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